I often buy tea in Chinatown because it’s so cheap. Several times, I’ve bought organic green tea. It’s not so much that it matters to me whether my tea is organic, but for 100 bags of green tea at, like, $2.99, it sounds like a good deal, especially when you consider that many name-brands easily cost twice that for a quarter of the amount of tea.

Looks like that tea might not actually be organic. Ditto for many other products from China bearing the “U.S.D.A. Organic” seal, such as frozen broccoli, pine nuts, and sunflower seeds.

This label helps assure consumers that food manufacturers and farmers have jumped through all the hoops necessary to earn it, but the United States Agriculture Department has recently called into question certification of organic products in China. In fact, the agency has banned a leading American inspector due to a serious conflict of interest. You can read more about it in the New York Times.

As China is a country that has been associated quite a lot in the past few years with serious food safety scandals, it’s pretty scary to think that food items did not pass all the inspections consumers thought they had.

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